Ocular migraines

Although they can be alarming, ocular migraines are usually nothing to worry about, and symptoms normally disappear on their own after around 30 minutes.

What are the symptoms of an ocular migraine?

  • Temporary loss of vision in one eye (normally the same eye each time)
  • Blurry or dimmed vision
  • Flashing lights, squiggly patterns or blind spots across your field of vision
  • A headache before, during or after you experience vision loss

Any vision loss you experience will normally last for about 10-20 minutes before your sight starts to return gradually. In some cases it can be longer, but it’s not common for it to last more than an hour.

Ocular migraines are different to a migraine with aura, which usually affects both eyes.

What causes ocular migraines?

An ocular migraine happens when the blood flow to the eye becomes restricted due to a sudden narrowing of the blood vessels. Once the vessels relax, normal blood flow returns and symptoms clear. Usually this will have no lasting damage to the eye.

Common triggers include:

  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sugar
  • Excessive heat
  • Exercise
  • Bending over
  • Smoking
  • Certain types of contraceptives

They’re also more common in women, people over 40, and those with a family history of migraines or headaches.

How do you treat ocular migraines?

Treatment isn’t always necessary for ocular migraines as symptoms usually go away own their own after about half an hour. We’d recommend resting your eyes until your symptoms pass, and taking painkillers as recommended if you have an accompanying headache. Otherwise, the best thing you can do is to avoid exposure to common triggers.

However, because ocular migraine symptoms are similar to those caused by a stroke-type event in the eye, it’s important that you seek medical advice from your GP quickly so that further investigations can be considered.

If you have any concerns about the frequency of your ocular migraines, visit your GP who may also be able to recommend further treatment.

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Frequently asked questions

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.